Building Community that Transcend Networks

I worked with an organization building a mobile platform for women, queer, and trans folks to report incidents of street harassment. In its early stage, the organization was very focused on making it dead-simple for people to submit info. Which is good. But, I believe the success of the project lies beyond that moment. If the action leads to data for stats and advocacy alone, it won’t reach its potential for transforming culture.

This is about *translating information into action and back again*; about making a fluid two-way connection between offline and online. It’s what every activist aims to achieve with their online organizing.

h3. Activists Innovate, Business will Follow

Coincidentally… product makers are scrambling to get us using tools that connect us to each other, and (with location-based tools) to our place in the world. Foursquare is a fledgling step. This year, google, facebook, and apple will make profound investments in an attempt to digitize our real-world actions. If they build it, the capital will follow. Is this a shift from the Sears catalog to amazon.com continuum of the past century? A push outside, to the streets, flesh and blood? Or is it an extension, merely another experience as commodity?

h3. A Convergence

I think we’re in the moment of an important convergence. Five years ago, organizers and activists proved to be very nimble and effective, adopting new media and social networks much more quickly than their corporate counterparts. Now that everybody is more savvy, *can we repeat enough of that history to gain a foothold and carve a space for the public good?*

h3. People are not your medium.

It’s important to remember that social change projects must have an authentic grounding in the community. *You cannot create change using people as your medium*. Change must come from people, with you in their service. To do that, set aside your assumptions and your vision for change. If your goal is even slightly out of sync with the community, your campaign will linger. Work for the community and truly understand their interests, and you will find yourself in the midst of a movement.

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About Matthew W

From Miami. Pointing and clicking in Brooklyn.
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